14 July 2012


We live our lives, possibly marry and have children and grandchildren.  We pass on our DNA which is a melding of the DNA of our ancestors and are told we have our father's eyes or our grandmother's nose but what do we know of them as a person? 
When I started to trace my family tree I looked for names of my relatives, dates of their births, marriages and deaths but I felt like there was something missing.  What else was there to find?  The person my ancestor had been, that is what was left!  The following writing was posted on a genealogy mailing list.  It was written anonymously but shares my feelings of what genealogy is about, filling in my ancestors dash!
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning ... to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1930 - 1998)
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth....
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile...
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy's being read
With your life's action's to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

The Quest

My aunt and godmother, Mary Kolodzinski Porebski, had always been interested in finding information about her ancestors.  She had spent hours in the Cook County Courthouse (Illinois) looking for records.   Frustrated since neither my father, her older brother, Edward, nor their older sister, Anna Kolodzinski Drozek, would tell her anything about their parents lives in Europe.  
Her research always intrigued me.  I had researched the history of a building and found it fascinating and informative.  This made me decide to research the history of my family sine it would no doubt be fascinating and informative, too.  The quest began!

Both my paternal grandparents were born in Europe and immigrated to the USA in the early 1900's.  My grandmother, Marianna Smulska Kolodzinski, died of pneumonia in 1936 at the age of 53.  My grandfather, Michael Kolodzinski, died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1940at  the age of 61.  Both had been laid to rest at St Adalberts Catholic Cemetery before my parents married.
I was never to meet them but remember many of the stories my dad would tell me.  They were fascinating tales to a young child and I will tell you some of them in future posts.

My maternal grandparents were slightly easier,or at least my grandmother side was easier.  Her maiden name was Mary Inda.  She was born in Chicago, IL, in the mid 1890's.  Mary married my grandfather, Stanley Szostek, in Chicago.  He had been born in Poland, immigrating in the early 1900's and finally settling in Chicago.
Her parents and grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1890's.  She was not told much about her family's life in Poland but records found in Illinois filled in much of the tree branch prior to immigration.  
It was my mother's older sister, Phyllis Szostek Wegrzyn, who helped fill in many gaps in my materal branch.  

If you are starting to trace your family's history start with what you know.   Then remember to ask your oldest living relatives what they can tell you about your family.  They won't always be around to relay their knowledge, write it down while they are still there to tell you the family stories.....